Our Strategy

How We Do It

Washington, D.C. is home to one of the most racially-imbalanced justice systems in the United States. Black people make up less than half the population in the city but more than 90 percent of people in our jails.


By reacting to one issue of public concern at a time, the District has enacted policies that perpetuate inequality and have their own criminogenic effects.


Instead, we take a comprehensive and forward-thinking approach to criminal justice. We merge community organizing and empirical research to design and advance imaginative, carefully-calibrated public safety solutions by and for people who are most directly impacted. The policies we recommend center the expressed interests and concerns of native Washingtonians.

  • Finding What Works: Our research spans the full spectrum of issues in the District’s criminal legal system. Each DC Justice Lab proposal is comprehensive and well-supported by evidence that it will promote public safety.

  • Engaging Community: The best policies and practices are informed by and responsive to the real experiences of people who have seen the impact of failing policies firsthand. We are committed to democratizing civic engagement at every level of decision-making.

  • Going Farther Together: We are forming a new bench of concerned citizens and criminal justice advocates, to build broad support for the most urgent reforms.